Students returned this week and it really has been a whirlwind from start to finish. Classes are very full and just making room to sit has been a challenge at times. Luckily the students have been great. I started the year a little apprehensive for the first time in years. The class coming in had a pretty bad reputation and had made a few teachers reconsider if they wanted to be teachers. We started the year with a frank and honest conversation about my expectations and their reputation. As I sat at the front of the room sharing a quote at the back of the room caught my eye.
The first time I heard Dr. Muhammad-Jackson share this wisdom it really hit me like a ton of bricks. Monday as I considered these words in the current context and apprehension over the year it hit me again. I had allowed the worst parts of the class, the stories shared out of frustration and exhaustion block out the potential for excellence like a big old cloud on an otherwise sunny day. So we paused and shifted. I told the classes I wanted us to start over. I didn't want my opinion of them to be guided by the past and I wanted them to ponder the possibilities that could exist if we could choose fun and learning over behavior management. What our classroom could look like if we worked towards community rather than control.
With that in mind, I asked the students to share something they thought represented their excellence. I grabbed some index cards and explained the quick little assignment.
Take your Index card and thinking of a term that you think represents your excellence craft a visual representation in some way.
On the back write three things you would like me to know about you.
That was it. A simple way to get to know the kids and a great soft start to the day. Here are a few of the results.
From this activity I introduced students to the term Multimodal and we discussed different modes of communication. A favourite activity I do in the first days of school is viewing Jason Reynolds perform For Everyone it is a fantastic message and delivered in an engaging and multimodal way.
Before we watched the performance I asked students to record the lines and moments that stood out to them in their notebooks. Students wrote furiously through the video. When it was completed I asked the students to share their favourite lines. After some had shared and I shared some of my own students were tasked with creating something that could be seen as multimodal. At first, they were worried about how it might be marked, that they were not artists. I just asked them to take a chance. Jump Anyway as Jason said and really the results speak for themselves.
Different artistic abilities and levels of creativity were explored but I was so pleased with their first efforts thinking with a multimodal lens.
We also got a lot of writing in this week but I am going to save that for another post.